Both the Goshen College men’s and women’s tennis teams wrapped up their seasons this week.The men’s team finished 5-10 overall and 3-5 in the conference, while the women’s side ended the season 0-15.
Evan Atkinson, head coach, said, “This was probably one of the most enjoyable teams I’ve ever coached.”
“Our team is enthusiastic and passionate,” he said. “When I say team, I speak of both our men’s and women’s units because even though we compete separately, we are one family.”
The two groups practiced, traveled, ate, and laughed together, all while supporting and encouraging each other throughout a season filled with adversity.
The aftermath of COVID-19and its impact on scheduling brought excitement and challenges to the 2021 competitive season.
“I personally believe tennis season is always quite demanding,” Atkinson said, “but there were definitely some differences this year compared to most.”
In 2020, the Crossroads League decided it would be best to play doubleheaders to limit travel during COVID-19 as well as reduce the amount of interaction amongst multiple teams.
This year, the league decided to continue doubleheaders for conference matches but did not like students missing so many classes during the week. Therefore, the idea was to schedule all league doubleheaders on Saturdays to keep student-athletes in school and continue to limit travel days.
“These Saturdays, paired with the heat this Fall, did prove to be rather grueling,” Atkinson said. “While I like the idea of more matches and competition on the weekends, I believe this year’s experience would lead me to voting against mandated doubleheaders in the future.”
On top of a demanding schedule, the tennis program welcomed ten new faces to their roster, coming from a total of six different countries. Atkinson believes that these additions brought a new dynamic to the team, and he saw an increase in enthusiasm and passion throughout the course of the season.
Kevin Bollmann, a second-year transfer student from Switzerland, has contributed heavily to the team’s positive culture and overall effort.
Bollmann said, “Because we are a very young team with many new players, it took time for us to get used to the style and speed of college tennis.”
“It is a team sport, people are cheering loudly, and you are representing your university,” he said. “Competitive tennis back home for international students is much different than it is here.”
Bollmann said, “After some very tight losses against the best teams in our conference at the beginning of the season, we were able to see how much potential our team truly has.”
“I think this is something that should motivate us for the upcoming season,” he said.
Atkinson gave major props to his two seniors, Josh Friesen and Victoria Oakes.
“The team’s personality often adopts that of its senior leaders, and I believe that was true this year,” Atkinson said. “Both have been with the program for all four years of their college careers, and we’re so proud of them.”
Oakes, a fourth-year accounting major, said, “I’m very sad that my senior year of tennis has come to an end, but I am also very grateful.”
“We may not be the best team in the conference but we put up a fight and play our hardest on the court every single day,” she said. “Our team is a great support system for one another, and without that support, I don’t think we would be as successful as we are.”
As Atkinson reflects on the highs and lows of the 2021 season, he remains optimistic for the future.
“I’m very proud of what our team has accomplished on and off the court,” he said. “I believe we had many ‘wins’ this year that were not reflected on the scoreboard.”
“Goshen tennis stands committed to supporting and representing Goshen College in a positive way,” he said. “I am excited for the future and all that is to come.”